We Used To Just Ski. And Ski Talk. What Happened?

There we were, making turns in the soft powder as it dumped from the sky. The fluff was mesmerizing. Then my companion-of-the-day announced: “I have to stop.”

Are Smartphones an insidious barrier to socializing on the slopes?  Credit: Harriet Wallis
Are Smartphones an insidious barrier to socializing on the slopes?
Credit: Harriet Wallis

Off came the gloves. Out came the phone. She began snapping photos.

My mind said: “Take your photos, then let’s ski.” But the photo session continued.

“I need to send these photos to my friends in Germany right now.”

My thoughts said: “They’re asleep in Germany right now. It’s the middle of the night.”

On the lift, the phone came out, and the thumbs tapped away. They tapped in the lodge, and they tapped as I drove us down the canyon toward home.

I had my fill of this phone-thing and spoke up hoping she’d take a hint. “Would you like me to pull over so you can finish texting?”

“No,” she said. “I can do this while you drive.”

I’d been invisible most of the day, and then I was relegated to being the chauffeur.

What ever happened to ski talk?

In the past, ski friends would exchange news of the family and get caught up on each other’s activities. And in the past, if you got on a lift or sat at a table with someone you didn’t know, the ski talk began. “Are you having a good day?” “Where are you from?” “Do you ski here often?”

By the time the lift reached the summit or when you’d finished your burger, you’d exchanged life stories and probably had a tip for a great restaurant. Socializing was an important part of skiing.

But now, Smartphones have reduced communication to Neanderthal grunts—and tapping thumbs say, “Don’t bother me. I’m busy talking to somebody other than you.”

Has part of the ski experience been lost?

To read more from Harriet click here for her stories on SkiUtah.




  1. Very good comments. So true. Also you could include the apps that measure vertical feet and the efforts to maximize vertical feet instead of focusing on the ski experience. In the zeal to make as many runs as you can to be a winner in the app, people miss the beauty of skiing info and the surrounding mountains because they are always checking the app and skiing laps.
    My friends and I set the one day record for vertical feet on one of the apps. 57,000 vertical feet at Northstar at Tahoe and I have not used the thing since.

  2. The apps are also a distraction from the beauty of skiing. Instead of focusing on the experience, people become slaves to the app. My friends and I set the one day record for one of the apps at 57,000 vertical feet at Northstar at Tahoe. Pretty good for a bunch of senior skiers. But I have not used it since for many of the reasons that you stated.

  3. Smart phones are driving me crazy. They have taken over all social situations. No one talks anymore. You see a table full of people out to eat, and no one is talking–they are on their phones.

  4. Reality check. It is never EVERYONE on their phones – there is a percentage of people on their phones and that rate is not 100%. So look around and strike up a conversation with someone who is not on their phone. Go ahead, don’t be afraid.

  5. I hate them generally and only carry one for an emergency. I agree that they ruin the skiing experience as well as many others. Last year when we were seated before Christmas dinner someone was using one and I loudly and emphatically said, “No cell phones!” Everyone was shocked but it was put away.

  6. Get serious. Sure there is an occasional smart phone addict idiot. Unfriend them. How do you find your lost grandaughter, where they are when for lunch , meet up with your son, check your messages for when to pick up your wife at the airport, and a dozen other things without your phone. Its the greatest invention this century. Dumb article .

  7. Harriet, I like your articles but, you need to practice how to say something like, I came to ski with you, not sit with you while you’re on the phone. If it doesn’t work – simply ski away and don’t offer to drive again.

  8. Mark Hutchinson says:

    Right on! Put the phones away!

  9. JON KLIEGMAN [80+] says:

    Whilst riding in a filled elevator recently, I spied three young women busily tapping on their cell phones. I excused myself and told them that we were riding in a cell phone free conveyance. AND THEY IMMEDIATELY DOUSED THE PHONES.
    Ya see? It works.
    Conversationalists of the World Unite……

  10. Peter McCarville says:

    Harriet, as a ski guide of seniors I find that they are just as addicted to smart phones and the data apps as the young ones are. I have often asked strangers on lifts to not talk on the cell phone when riding up. The times of texting are now upon us and the conversations have dwindled, but I am still annoyed by my guests that have to be on the things while on the hill.

  11. John Christiano says:

    These are all great thoughts but I have something to add. I am a 74 year old skier. I live in the East which means I can and do ski all over the world with no problems. Imagine living at Sugarbush and taking a two week ski vacation every year for the last 35 years with my wife. The east is a great training area for anything nature can through at you. I have sat on plenty of chairs for a lot of years and have the following observation to make about being a local and chair lift conversation. The only folks who talk about skiing are lower intermediate skier tourists. The most popular question I am inevitably asked is “Do you live here all year round”. It used to bother me but I got over it when i think that I get about 100 days here.
    ADVICE. When someone whips out a smart phone remind them that the lift can be bumpy and that they could drop the phone and it will dive under the snow. It usually never comes to that after you tell them that you are a local because you have information that they want which usually trumps a cell call to Kikky. It works every time. If I am alone I usually ask them if they want to take a run with me. If they are jerks I point out all the folks who are sliding (parallel turns ) all over the place and point out a few skiers who CARVE. I show them what to look for when they ride the lift and describe how beautiful carved turns can be. I tell them that the carved turn is now built into all skis and it makes doing them easier. By the time I get off the lift I feel good because we talked about skiing and showed them what carved turns are and hopefully they will want to learn them. I have friends who are married to parallel ( Stein Erickson) turns. If you are also, just ask yourself what would be more fun skiing on one ski or two. Easy. Forget ski school. They have no idea how to teach carved turns. Racing instructors can and will give you a gift of a lifetime. You lay down your first carved turn and all the other things in life are meaningless. Done

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